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Why Are So Many Downtown Students Moving to Tempe?

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

By Morgan Cole

Is downtown Phoenix boring or is Tempe just more appealing to college students?

Arizona State University (ASU) has campuses in four cities: Tempe, Glendale, Mesa, and, last but not least, downtown Phoenix. While Tempe is ASU’s main campus where events like football games are held, the downtown campus is growing rapidly due to majors like journalism and nursing being offered there.

According to an article from azcentral, there were 11,584 students attending ASU’s downtown Phoenix campus in 2018 with only one dorm in the area — Taylor Place. In the past few years, it was filled to capacity so much so that they had to move a number of students into a hotel nearby. ASU began construction on a new residence hall in downtown Phoenix last year.

With limited housing options downtown, many students typically make the decision to move to Tempe after living in the Taylor Place dorms their first year.

This is true for Dominic Stearn, a second-year student studying sports journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He moved to Tempe after his first year because he wanted more of a college experience that he didn’t feel he was getting in downtown Phoenix.

Stearn said that the Tempe social scene helps him feel less trapped than he did downtown.

“I have zero desire to move back to Phoenix,” Stearn said.

However, Stearn did say that he prefers taking classes in Phoenix as opposed to Tempe. He likes that he can focus on school in Phoenix and then head back to Tempe to focus on other things.

Second-year student Ryan Blank had other reasons for wanting to move to Tempe.

“I wanted to explore more of Arizona and get out of the downtown bubble,” Blank said.

Blank also said he believes it is significantly cheaper to live in Tempe — this is both true and false. The farther you go from downtown Tempe, the cheaper it will be; it also depends on the quality of the apartment and how old it is. However, if you’re looking for a nice, high-rise apartment in downtown Tempe, then Phoenix will most likely be cheaper.

Blank didn’t have all bad things to say about Downtown Phoenix.

“I love the small community that the downtown campus provided throughout Taylor Place my freshman year,” Blank said.

Like I mentioned earlier, the housing options downtown are extremely limited.

Connor Fries is a third-year student at the Cronkite school, and he left downtown after his second year of college.

“I moved to Tempe because there’s a lack of student housing in downtown Phoenix, and there are more options in Tempe,” Fries said. He also said that if there were more student housing options downtown, then he would move back there.

Fries then stated the major differences between living downtown and living in Tempe.

“Tempe is more inviting,” Fries said.

He explained that he believes downtown Phoenix is geared more toward graduate students whereas Tempe is geared more toward undergrads.

Similar to Stearn, Fries was also looking for the typical college experience, and he didn’t feel that he was getting that in downtown Phoenix.

“Originally, I didn’t think I would be downtown. Personally, I think that the Tempe campus offers an experience that downtown just can’t,” Fries said.

So, maybe downtown Phoenix isn’t that boring; it just doesn’t provide the same fun college experience that Tempe does. But, if you’re attending school purely for your education (props to you if you are), then maybe downtown Phoenix is the place for you.


What do you prefer more, downtown Tempe or Phoenix? Let us know on Instagram, Twitter, or leave a comment!

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Main Image by: Meredith Miotke


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